The wheeling and dealing as Dell continues its plan to go private continues. Today, the company announced that it struck a deal with investor Carl Icahn that will avoid the chance of a hostile takeover while also signaling that it will take his rival bid more seriously. Icahn and his team have agreed not to purchase more than 10 percent of Dell's shares, nor will they enter into agreements with other shareholders that would give the combined partnership more 15 percent of Dell's shares — effectively limiting his ability to gather up control of the company. Dell also granted Icahn a "limited waiver" which allows him to contact other Dell stockholders about his potential bid and potentially team up with them to strengthen his offer.
It appears that Icahn traded buying power in exchange for Dell taking his alternate bid under serious consideration. If Dell's special committee believes this deal is most likely to lead to his proposal being accepted (and Icahn is willing to enter into a deal that limits his ability to buy up Dell's stock), it's possible the two groups are operating on friendlier terms to get his more favorable proposal accepted. Dell and Icahn's deal will last until either the current proposal from CEO Michael Dell and Silverlake is accepted, a superior alternative proposal is accepted, or until January 14th, 2014. Dell's buyout is still a long way from being complete, but Icahn's interest in the struggling PC maker continues unabated.